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The Last Straw Posts

JaDa – Day 54

The auspicious time and day arrived finally, for me to relish food! Thilaga, the South Indian restaurant satisfied my palettes in ways I didn’t know existed. The food was good, more on the average side. But yet, it was amazing, given the fact it was served on plantain leaves and with authentic taste and flavour, all in Japan, a country that’s polar opposite in food preferences. The chef Prashant, a malayali and Arogiyaswami, a tamilian, were both pleased to see us, who were a mix of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They were the first people here with whom I could talk in the regional language, and that was an amazing feeling in so many days! The masala dosa, chutney, rice, the side dishes were all awesome. The best part however was the crispy uzhunnu vada (medu vada), spicy sambar and piping hot tea! If only if they weren’t running ahead of their close time, I would have ordered more of everything. Some other time, some other day.

Walking out of Thilaga, we took a bus to the Kyoto Handicraft Centre. Only when it felt like too south Indian a day, we met Sukumar, a visiting faculty at Kyoto University and his wife Sudha. Again a mix breed of Malayalam and Tamil, we spoke in both the languages and English. They gave us a quick idea about the Indian restaurants, shopping spots and good souvenirs to take home. We even got their contact, to keep in touch for a meeting again! A typical Indian couple suddenly appeared angelic!

Next stop was at Teramachi, the one stop shopping street in Shijo Kawaramachi. Tea sampling and shopping, souvenir hunting and exploring, we went around the place for quite a while. The routine bus to Kyoto, train to Minami Kusatsu and bus to Matsugaoka were wired in our system by now!

JaDa – Day 53

Cube, right next to Shiru cafe, has always been enticing us. Finally, we stepped in and I kept wondering why I didn’t go there sooner. It guaranteed fried potatoes in the campus, after all. Some cheese, some potato, some eggplant and some blueberry. It was a perfect lunch. The dinner was to be more perfect though, for it was the proper dinner here, after almost two months. Shoko, the coordinator here, some other international students and us – it was a good time! Forget about food, its always french fries for me. While they enjoyed a traditional okonomiyaki, Shoko desperately tried to get a customised vegetarian option one. When I listed everything I couldn’t eat, and as Shoko translated it to the waitress, it was a priceless look on her face. She wondered what is left to cook, as we kept removing ingredient after ingredient! The first proper Japanese dinner, however, was a worthwhile experience. The makeshift grill on the table, the communal platter as everyone’s food went into the same grill plate, and the first look of okonomiyaki – a new memory to my Japan Diary!

JaDa – Day 52

From the poori success, Divya was inspired to suggest chappati for dinner today. And as always, I am in for food, as long as its veg! Over dinner, we discussed how we want to travel around and see more places in Japan. Time is running out, and in no time we are heading back to India. Lot to do, in terms of the internship, as well as seeing around Japan. Just when I was about to call it a day, and slide into sleep, Divya just gave me the best news here so far. Thilaga, the south Indian restaurant, that serves south indian meals, masala dosa and uzhunnu vada! Next trip already planned!

JaDa – Day 51

I feel this often here, while going shopping vegetables, that we never get enough of anything. No matter how much we buy, it tends to be over sooner than what we plan. It has nothing to do with my shopping pattern, but more with my food insecurity, I guess. It was never a thing back home. What if I run out of all my vegetarian supplies suddenly?! 😀

P.S. After effects of going to Friend Mart, for the nth time!

JaDa – Day 50

After a lot of activity, it felt like the right time to have some solitude. Incidentally, Divya wasn’t around when I took a walk to Shiru cafe. Contemplating life, sipping their tasty chocolate shake, it was a much needed break from the chaos!

JaDa – Day 49

Nothing could match yesterday’s adventure and excitement. So it felt like a a perfect day to go back and feel home, and talk to people. Called up a couple of relatives back home, engaged in long conversations and settled in for a calm evening. To top the day, Divya came in with her awesome idea for dinner. We made poori and aloo, and they turned out awesome! The closest-to-home taste so far!

JaDa – Day 48

The excitement from the previous night wasn’t any low in the morning. As Divya said, I am indeed bitten by the travel bug. At this point, I just want to get into any train, go somewhere and do something different. Kobe is exactly all that I want in a trip. We hardly knew anything about what to expect, though we did have an itinerary. Going into the tourist information at Sannomiya, we were left with new places to visit and more confusion. Time was chasing us, as it is as almost noon.

We headed to Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, from Sannomiya. Reaching Maiko in about fifteen minutes was a trip worth remembering. Travelling by the coast in a train was again part of my perfect journey. The very sight of the bridge made the trip worth it. Walking by the glass panes and feeling like walking over water was priceless. We didn’t want to leave, but the day was long and promising. Back to Sannomiya, we walked to the ropeway and the spice garden at Mt. Rokko. Kitanocho was only a bypass in our plan, but we spent quite some time walking by the houses-turned-shows – the Sherlock Holmes House, Trick Art Museum and many more. Nothing got our fancy as much as the ropeway, and we kept walking. I am not sure if I have been on a ropeway as a child, but this felt like a never before experience. Suspended from a thin rope, floating in air, it was an amazing experience – the waterfalls, the dam, other travellers cars in the rope way, and the safety net below you. Spending some time at the curio stall and food place, clicking a couple of pictures, we were good to go down the rope way. The spice garden was conveniently ignored, as we floated down the rope way, to foot of the mountain.

Shortly after getting into a bus, we reached Mt. Maya. The cable car was waiting for us, but we were preoccupied with Pepper, the robot. Seeing him talk, dance and pose for photos with us, we spent a while at the foot of the mountain, waiting for the next trip. Hopping on to the car, sitting next to the ‘locopilot’ and watching him take us uphill through the tracks, we couldn’t wait for the ropeway that awaited us at the end of the cable car. It was getting darker, but the ropeway was still beautiful. We were at the top of the mountain for the sunset. It was a cloudy evening, unfortunately. Not any lesser, Mt. Maya is famous for its lit-up view of Kobe and Osaka. Immersed in the view, we spent a while there, until we realised we were getting late for China Town and Harbor Land.It was barely ten when we reached China Town, famous for its street food, but the place was almost completely sleeping. The shops were all closed, much to Divya’s and Saikat’s dismay. Online reviews were not completely to be trusted after all. Grabbing some makeshift dinner, we headed to Harbor Land, to make the most of the rest of the trip. As anticipated, it was a beautiful place by the backwaters, with a majestic Ferris wheel. I wished I could be more scared of the Wheel, but it was all the more exciting to see the lights from the restaurants, and the Kobe tower, from the height. It was worth spending more time there, but the last train was not much away. Running late, almost all the shops were closed and we had no dinner, and was exhausted after the long day. Reaching Minami Kusatsu after midnight, we had to walk all the way back to hostel. One of the very rare instances, when I was still up and energetic for an hour long walk, I realised how deep the travel bug had bitten me. All the more, the night stays lovely as a cherished memory.

JaDa – Day 47

Lately, my obsession has clearly drifted away from food, towards travelling. I practically spent the whole day wondering about the next travel destination. After much discussions and confusion, we finally settled on Kobe. Throughout the day, I have also been thinking about how much have I grown as a person. Amidst the profound thoughts, I keep looking at myself. And surprisingly, I find myself better than yesterday. And I am assured that I will be better than this tomorrow. I am not sure if this is the travel fever speaking. If travel can do this to me, I want to travel more and more.

Can’t wait for tomorrow!

JaDa – Day 46

The day is never complete until you travel. Especially when you are in a new place. Everyday looks out for a new place to explore, newer things to do, and the newest experience. Going Aeon mall was one such. It’s the closest place to hang out, from our stay. Yet we never went that way so far. Everything has a time and place, and today was Aeon’s. Going to the western side of Minami Kusatsu felt like stepping into a whole different land. We usually use the eastern side, as that’s the side where the University and I-house are. It was the same set of shops, similar houses and buildings. Yet, it felt different in many unknown ways.

Aeon had a lot of things that we went searching for in Kyoto. It had a familiar ambience of a mall, yet an intriguing aura. The supermarket, shopping, food court – they all felt the same. Except that, shopping was cheaper and food court was not confusing; head straight to any shop that serves French fries and you are done. Luckily enough, I had McDonald’s. By far, food decisions have been the easiest for me, here! I did try the half and half pizza – thanks to Divya for her ‘kindness’. The Margherita and Four cheese were perfect for me. It’d been so for her too, had it been not too ‘veg’!

Coming back home, it wasn’t a satisfying day yet. The desire to travel more is growing stronger after each passing day!